Rollins hosts champion debaters from Jamaica, South Korea

Debate is well-recognized as scholastic discourse at its finest. It is neither passive learning nor a mere acknowledgement of simple facts. Proper debate presents itself as a swift and rapid exchange of ideas in a search for academic and social truths – it is an art form that very much relies on the responses of a very active audience, and the passionate reciprocation of knowledge and argumentative logic by the debaters.

To celebrate the 10th Anniversary of debate at Rollins, the college invited The Jamaican Association for Debating and Empowerment and the Solbridge International School of Business from South Korea, to attend a series of week-long debating activities at Rollins and across Central Florida. Some of these activities included a much-anticipated coach’s debate and opportunities to practice and share knowledge with local high schools and college teams.  The international debaters met with teams from Lake Nona High School, Apopka High School, and Valencia College.

SooJung (Sally) Lee, vice president and varsity member of the Solbridge Debate Society, was astonished at the large turnout for the Rollins Great Debate held on Tuesday, February 21. “Debating is an intellectual sport but more importantly, it is an extremely important tool of communication for cultural interactions and reaching a consensus of important world issues that we face until today. We are very happy to see that debating has become an important school activity, and we are astonished with the huge amount of support that the Rollins debate team is receiving,” she said.

Our Rollins debaters have had various competitions this month, including the 21st Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl Competition that took place on February 26, which marked the end of a particularly busy Debate Week.  The highlight of the week–for the majority of the Rollins community, at least–was undeniably the Great Debate.  During a particularly insightful debate between The Jamaican Association for Debating and Empowerment and Rollins College, debaters offered their input on the issue of whether or not President Trump’s foreign policies will make America safer.  The audience was especially lively through the entire proceedings–waving around American, South Korean, and Jamaican flags to a chorus of “hear, hear” and “shame, shame.”

The United States of America, the land of the free and home of the brave, the promoter of federalism and seeker of justice, the leader of the free-world and an undisputable powerhouse, has long been recognized as the world’s melting pot.  The Trump presidency might soon change that facet of America’s reputation among other nations in the international sphere.  During the Great Debate, Side Government, represented by the Rollins debaters, argued that “safety is an operative term. It doesn’t have to mean that other countries will like [you], it means that we will be safe.”  Side Opposition, meanwhile, argued that the “very United States of America where we enjoy fundamental rights and freedoms was established on an ethos of internationalism and harmony.”

The issue of the immigration ban came up multiple times during the debate.  Side Government denied the fact that it was a Muslim ban, claiming that it instead reinforced Trump’s realist foreign policy approach by banning only failed states, states in Civil War, and, in the case of Iran, a state sponsor of terrorism.  They would potentially be willing to expand the ban to other nations that met this criteria, as well. Side Government maintained that, in countries where there is a lack of regulated institutions that can provide information about citizens, the process of vetting potential immigrants is just unrealistic.

Side opposition, represented by very passionate members of The Jamaican Association for Debating and Empowerment, argued that Trump’s policies were not realist, but were in fact isolationist.  While an internationalist approach to foreign policy spurs progress, an isolationist approach will make America less safe. “Trump’s policies are isolationist and spark local and international contention. [America] taught the world federalism, and it has been working.  By taking on the role of the leader of the free world, [ensuring the safety of vulnerable states] is the burden that America has taken on its shoulders.” By building up walls, claimed Side Opposition, people will be forced to find new ways of penetrating those walls.

The international political sphere of today is one filled with unrest and uncertainty.  There will be many changes in the next four years, and it is imperative that college students take an active approach to understanding issues such as the future of foreign policy and immigration in the United States.  Rollins is especially proud of its debaters for continuing to tackle and discuss the hard issues head-on.  And, while The Jamaican Association for Debating and Empowerment ultimately won this year’s Great Debate in a 4:3 vote, both sides articulated their positions very well.   Ultimately, however, the decision came down to whether or not the issue of enhanced safety as a consequence to new foreign policy measures had been confirmed.

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